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Structural changes, employment outcomes, and population adjustments among whites and blacks: 1980-1990

John Bound and Harry Holzer ()

Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers from University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty

Abstract: Earnings and employment deteriorated the most for young, less- educated, and/or black males in the 1980s. The most severe deterioration for blacks occurred in the North-Central regions. The causes of such regional and demographic variation in outcomes include a greater severity of demand shifts away from these groups and areas, as well as the greater relative impacts of such shifts on the earnings and employment of these demographic groups. Relative supply shifts across areas also contributed somewhat to the observed employment outcomes. There is some evidence of short-run population shifts across areas and groups that at least partially offset the negative demand changes described above. But younger and less-educated workers, especially among blacks, showed substantially lower population adjustments and migration in this time period in response to these demand shifts. The educational improvements of blacks during this decade also lagged behind. These limited supply responses apparently contributed somewhat to the severity of the demand effects on the employment and earnings of these groups during the 1980s. The data used here are from the Public Use Samples of the 1980 and 1990 Censuses and the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.

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